The entrepreneurial world has created a global marketplace where goods, services can arrive at your doorstep with just a wave of your magic wand; that is, the 21st-century magic wand (your smartphone).
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso, with over twenty thousand students, is one of the many homes of entrepreneurship. It is a common saying that LAUTECH and entrepreneurship are two peas in a pod.
The rate at which young entrepreneurs sprout from LAUTECH is hitting the apex and raising eyebrows. Speculations are that it is due to the strike action which made many students seek the solace of trading and artisanship. Perhaps it was the dwindling economy and the fact that students needed more money than their allowance could provide.
Pressmen from the University’s Union of Campus Journalists interviewed some LAUTECH entrepreneurs in order to find out why.
John, a 500 level part-time student, ], and an entrepreneur who specializes in Bitcoin and Itunes cards trade, had this to say about how he carries out his business.
“Most of the credit I sell is through online transfer. So is the case with data, Bitcoin, and of course, Itunes Gift card. I normally publicize my contact details on several selected spots around the locale. And by locale, I mean around LAUTECH. Though I also get customers through other means.”
John stressed that the nine-month strike left him confused. He couldn’t go home, but he also didn’t want to seem like a dead weight, staying in school and waiting for his monthly allowance without having anything credible to show for it.
“If I was home,” John said. “The neighbours would be asking me why I’m not in school. Frankly, I’ve run out of excuses to give.”
But the business has not been a smooth run for John. He recounted an experience he had when he got scammed after joining a Whatsapp group that appeared legitimate, but was run by scammers.
“I was naïve,” he said. “The Bitcoin business was booming. It was the year 2016. MMM was the deal of a lifetime amongst most students. And people were delving into Bitcoin because unlike the Naira which gave returns of 30%, Bitcoins gave returns of 50%. I took advantage of this by joining one Whatsapp group for Bitcoin traders. I was enticed by all the transactions I saw going on in the group. People were making profits of up to two hundred thousand naira. It seemed too good to be true. I quickly chatted the admin, who told me to pay one hundred thousand naira for a trade. I didn’t have any money then, so I lent some money from my friend and promised to pay it back once I resold. But I was in for a shocker.” “After making the payments, I was immediately banned from the group. All means to contact the admin was hopeless at best. It very nearly burst my brain when I realized I’d just been scammed.”
John tried all means to retrieve his money but came out empty handed. The man who scammed him had already cleared all the money from his account and taken to his heels. The police traced the man’s location to a place in Port Harcourt. But then asked for Forty thousand naira as means of payment in order to journey there and apprehend the criminal. John quickly decided against it.
“What if they took my money and didn’t find the guy in Port Harcourt?” John asked. “My forty thousand will just disappear like that. I was still thinking of how I’ll tell my friend about what happened to his money. I didn’t want to add a forty thousand loss to my problem.”
John, who showed no hope of continuing the business once he graduates, said that the business was too risky and at the moment because the federal government has not approved the trade of bitcoin.
Another entrepreneur Adeyekun Temitope, a rice seller, who insisted on calling himself a “Ricepreneur,” has been in the business for three years.
“I wanted to see what the market would be like. I had a problem. I was broke. I narrowed down all the possible businesses I could do to make money until I ended up in rice trade. Most of the students, as I found out, consume rice more than anything else.”
Tope also said the rice business, not being a monopolized one, made it difficult for him to make sales. He had to deliver most of the rice to his customer’s doorstep before he eventually got a steady string of customers.
When asked if he found that exhausting, he said yes. But that as long as he got some profits, no matter how small, he still would keep on going.
“You can’t say you’re doing business without making gains. That’d just be child’s play. There’s a difference between a child rolling tyres in mud, and truck pushers and metal collectors,” Tope said.
Tope had this to say about the long term goals he has for the business.
“Nigeria is one of the countries producing rice. But we import most of our rice. The ones made locally are only eaten on rare occasions. Which is not the way things are supposed to be. The problem is that local rice is as costly as imported rice. I look to work on that; to make sure local rice is sold at a subsidized rate. Hopefully, I’ll be a major distributor of subsidized local rice.”
Oluwabunmi Christiana Ojo, popularly called Tiana, the vice president of Nigerian Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) in LAUTECH, started her fashion design and several online businesses three years ago, the year of the infamous nine-month strike. She started the business, not because she was inspired, but because she needed a less demanding career once she eventually decided to settle down.
“I’ll need something to give me an edge once I’m done with school,” she said.
The four hundred level LAUTECH student said that she did not want to be one of the half-baked graduates baking in the sun as they plied the streets with their CVs stuffed under their armpits.
On how she meets her customers, she said that the business is based on trust. Once she gets a customer and she delivers, the customer would refer her to another customer, who would refer her to another customer, and like that, word of her business would spread around.
“It’s all about consistency,” she said.
When asked what plans she has for the business in five or ten years, Oluwabunmi said she was working on being a web developer.
“In ten years, I should have a website like Jumia. So I won’t just be the end user. I want to also make money from this in a big way.”